Lawsuit filed against LC settles out of court

During the first day of classes in August of 2022, Henry Gillman, a first year, died in a hammocking accident on campus when unstable masonry collapsed on him and two other students. This past December, Elizabeth Kopple, Gillman’s mother and the personal representative of his estate, filed a lawsuit against Lewis & Clark and the outdoors companies that designed the hammocks — Eagle’s Nest Outfitters and Exxel Outdoors.

The case was filed as a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging negligence in four areas: allowing students to use the grape arbor masonry columns, failing to warn students of the structures’ instability, failing to remove the unstable columns and failing to close access to the grape arbor area. For the pain and suffering of both Gillman and his family, and all other non-economic damages, the estate of Henry Gillman requested $20,000,000. For all economic loss, ranging from burial expenses to lost future income, they requested an additional $10,000,000.

The case’s second claim for relief was filed against the two recreation companies on the basis of product liability. The plaintiff put forth that the companies should have known the dangers of using their products on unsafe structures and had failed to warn users or instruct them adequately on safe usage. 

Recently, the case against LC was settled privately without going to trial. 

Vice President for Communications Lori Friedman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“Out of respect for Henry’s family, and as a matter of policy regarding pending litigation, we are not offering comment. We would like to take this opportunity to again express our deepest sorrow and condolences to the Gillman and Kopple family,” Friedman said via email.

In October of 2023, Kopple wrote an essay about her experience grieving the death of her son, which was published in HuffPost.

“In an instant, every expectation for our family and our future was obliterated,” Kopple wrote. “I can still see his crooked smile and feel the warmth of his goodbye hugs.”

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